Teachers have warned poor children often go hungry during the holidays
Over half of primary school teachers answering a survey by the National Union of Teachers said pupils were affected by “holiday hunger” when they did not get a free school lunch.
Eighty per cent of those reporting the problem said the numbers affected had risen in the last two years.
A similar proportion said children were arriving at school hungry and 37 per cent that pupils were malnourished at the start of term.
A large majority said education and wellbeing suffered, the NUT annual conference in Cardiff heard.
The union’s general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “These heart-breaking findings lay bare the terrible impact of poverty on the lives and educational experiences of many children.
“This should not be tolerated at all, let alone in the sixth richest economy in the world.
Jeremy Corbyn has backed proposals for all primary school children to receive a free school meal
“Teachers are working hard to achieve the best outcomes for their pupils but the challenges they face as a result of poverty are increasing under this Government.”
This should not be tolerated at all
Kevin Courtney of the NUT
He urged the Government to adopt a “serious” poverty reduction strategy including free school meals for all primary children and action to tackle holiday hunger.
All children up to about age seven get free school lunches. Thereafter entitlement depends on family income and about 15 per cent get free meals.
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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has backed extending free meals to all primary school pupils in England, funded by putting VAT on private school fees.
Analysis from the charity Teach First found poor children are half as likely to go to a primary school rated outstanding by Ofsted inspectors as those from richer homes.
They were also much more likely to attend under-performing schools. Half a million families learn which primary school their child will attend from September, tomorrow.
Poorer children are half as likely to attend a school rated outstanding by Ofsted
Last year, 88.4 per cent of youngsters got into their first choice school. Teach First chief executive Brett Wigdortz, said: “As outstanding schools are unfairly concentrated in richer communities, poorer families are finding themselves priced out.”
The Department for Education said: “There are 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools than 2010 and we have created almost 735,000 extra places since 2010.”